"To me, this is the best Christmas present I could ever receive"
-- Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), CBS News, December 20, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Gun Owners of America and its supporters took a knife in the back yesterday, as Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) out-smarted his congressional opposition into agreeing on a so-called "compromise" on HR 2640 -- a bill which now goes to the President's desk.
The bill -- known as the Veterans Disarmament Act
to its opponents -- is being praised by the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign.
The Brady Bunch crowed "Victory! U.S. Congress Strengthens Brady Background Check System." The NRA stated that last minute changes to the McCarthy bill made a "good bill even better [and that] the end product is a win for American gun owners."
But Gun Owners of America has issued public statements decrying this legislation.
The core of the bill's problems is section 101(c)(1)(C), which makes you a "prohibited person" on the basis of a "medical finding of disability," so long as a veteran had an "opportunity" for some sort of "hearing" before some "lawful authority" (other than a court). Presumably, this "lawful authority" could even be the psychiatrist himself.
Note that unlike with an accused murderer, the hearing doesn't have to occur. The "lawful authority" doesn't have to be unbiased. The veteran is not necessarily entitled to an attorney -- much less an attorney financed by the government.
So what do the proponents have to say about this?
ARGUMENT: The Veterans Disarmament Act creates new avenues for prohibited persons to seek restoration of their gun rights.
ANSWER: What the bill does is to lock in -- statutorily -- huge numbers of additional law-abiding Americans who will now be denied the right to own a firearm.
And then it "graciously" allows these newly disarmed Americans to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a long-shot chance to regain the gun rights this very bill takes away from them.
More to the point, what minimal gains were granted by the "right hand" are taken away by the "left." Section 105 provides a process for some Americans diagnosed with so-called mental disabilities to get their rights restored in the state where they live. But then, in subsection (a)(2), the bill stipulates that such relief may occur only if "the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the GRANTING OF THE RELIEF WOULD NOT BE CONTRARY TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST." (Emphasis added.)
Um, doesn't this language sound similar to those state codes (like California's) that have "may issue" concealed carry laws -- where citizens "technically" have the right to carry, but state law only says that sheriffs MAY ISSUE them a permit to carry? When given such leeway, those sheriffs usually don't grant the permits!
Prediction: liberal states -- the same states that took these people's rights away -- will treat almost every person who has been illegitimately denied as a danger to society and claim that granting relief would be "contrary to the public interest."
Let's make one thing clear: the efforts begun during the Clinton Presidency to disarm battle-scarred veterans -- promoted by the Brady Anti-Gun Campaign -- is illegal and morally reprehensible.
But section 101(c)(1)(C) of HR 2640 would rubber-stamp those illegal actions. Over 140,000 law-abiding veterans would be statutorily barred from possessing firearms.
True, they can hire a lawyer and beg the agency that took their rights away to voluntarily give them back. But the agency doesn't have to do anything but sit on its hands. And, after 365 days of inaction, guess what happens? The newly disarmed veteran can spend thousands of additional dollars to sue. And, as the plaintiff, the wrongly disarmed veteran has the burden of proof.
Language proposed by GOA would have automatically restored a veteran's gun rights if the agency sat on its hands for a year. Unfortunately, the GOA amendment was not included.
The Veterans Disarmament Act passed the Senate and the House yesterday -- both times WITHOUT A RECORDED VOTE. That is, the bill passed by Unanimous Consent, and was then transmitted to the White House.
Long-time GOA activists will remember that a similar "compromise" deal helped the original Brady Law get passed. In 1993, there were only two or three senators on the floor of that chamber who used a Unanimous Consent agreement (with no recorded vote) to send the Brady bill to President Clinton -- at a time when most legislators had already left town for their Thanksgiving Break.
Gun owners can go to http://www.gunowners.org/news/nws9402.htm
to read about how this betrayal occurred 14 years ago.
With your help, Gun Owners of America has done a yeoman's job of fighting gun control over the years, considering the limited resources that we have. Together, we were able to buck the Brady Campaign/NRA coalition in 1999 (after the Columbine massacre) and were able to defeat the gun control that was proposed in the wake of that shooting.
Yesterday, we were not so lucky. But we are not going to go away. GOA wants to repeal the gun-free zones that disarm law-abiding Americans and repeal the other gun restrictions that are on the books. That is the answer to Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, the House and Senate chose the path of imposing more gun control.
So our appeal to you is this -- please help us to grow this coming year. Please help us to get more members and activists. If you add $10 to your membership renewal this year, we can reach new gun owners in the mail and tell them about GOA.
Please urge your friends to join GOA... and, at the very least, make sure they sign up for our free e-mail alerts so that we can mobilize more gun owners than ever before!